Lessons from Autism: Unconditional Love


I am a hopeless romantic at heart. I am the woman that sighs when the boy gets the girl after a grand gesture of love, and melts a little as they ride off into the sunset destined for a life filled with bliss. But somewhere along the way, maybe through the day to day mundane or weathering life’s storm, I’ve lost my zeal for a great romance.  Somewhere through Cancer and Autism, I’ve been reminded that true love is not like the movies.  Instead, through the ups and downs, I’ve learned what unconditional love is and how this deep-rooted, forever lasting love can shake up my life and give me a new identity.

Most of us when asked, would say yes, I know God loves me. But does that knowledge radiate through you and translate into every word you speak and every action you make?  Yeah, me neither. God’s been working on my heart, reminding me to bask in His love every moment, whether I am still and at peace, or frazzled and stressed.  He’s been reminding of me His love through summer sunsets, tender words from my children and spouse, and sending me love notes through His Scriptures.

In fact, He reminded me that in the Scriptures is where we find the greatest love story ever told.  Of course it starts with the hero, the Heavenly Father himself, and us, His beloved children.  Like any great love story, there is conflict.  The conflict is that even though the Father loves us more deeply and more passionately than we could ever in our finite minds begin to understand, we are to be eternally separated from Him because of sin.  God knew He could not let His beloved go and knew the only solution to this dilemma was to send a part of Himself in the flesh to earth.  This God-in-the-flesh, Jesus, walked the earth blamelessly and without sin, the ultimate example of perfection.  God’s love radiated through Jesus on the day He took our place in death and suffered innocently for us.  With this ultimate act of love, this grand gesture, we would be reunited with our true love, the Lord, in Heaven when we take our final breath if we choose to have a relationship with Him.

Isn’t that story, though told time and time again, beautiful and full of God’s power and hope?  In my life, I had gotten numb to hearing about the ultimate grand gesture of love.  I knew the story, was thankful for it, but never let it overflow into my life and into my relationships with others. God doesn’t like me to get complacent and stagnant in my relationship with Him. If left to my own devises, would I seek Him as much as He desires me to?  Probably not.

God knew I needed a change, a wake-up call to remind me of His amazing love, and the challenge of living it out and demonstrating it daily.  He knew that with His help, I would be called to show the ultimate form of love as a special needs parent to my daughter Joy.


Joy, our miracle baby, our gift from the Lord wrapped in a fuzzy pink blanket and placed specifically in our family through the beauty of adoption, has Autism. She is our first born, called to live an extra-special life.  With her special needs comes my biggest challenge and biggest blessing wrapped into one beautiful package, parenting her and being an extension of the hands and feet of Jesus.

Contemplating the magnetic pull of God’s love in our lives reminds me of how I am called to show Joy the love of Jesus as I serve her.

Loving her means the unexpected, as I don’t know how she will react to new situations and don’t know what our future holds.

Loving her means showing more grace than I ever thought possible and knowing that she may not understand consequences to her poor choices.

Loving her means keep her safe from the world around her but also from herself, as she tries to eat foreign objects, bangs her head and gets into trouble without recognizing signs of danger.

Loving her means having my heartbroken on days when her tantrums are many and her desire for interaction with me is low.

Loving her means giving more of myself to another human being than I ever thought possible.

Loving her is accepting who she and what her abilities may be.

Loving her, I am one step closer to seeing how Christ loves us and sees us, as screaming children who need a gentle hand to show us the way.


Loving her, God grows me a little more each day as He stretches me and challenges me.  But God knew I needed to learn this lesson of love and the only way I could do it, was to experience what it is like to love a wayward child, who on some days doesn’t want to be held or touched.

He needed me to know what it is like to pursue someone wholeheartedly and feel the joy when she wants to interact with me and the pain of those hard days when she turns away my affection.

Because that’s how much He loves me.

That’s how much He pursues me, with a wild, passionate, pure love that demands sacrifice so I can show my love in return.

Experiencing that love and the love I have for my girl would not be learned without the struggle of Autism.  It wouldn’t have comprehended, even in the slightest, how deep His love is for me if I lived a life of comfort and ease.

God knew I needed to love a special girl for me to comprehend  the extravagance of His love.

May I cherish her and pursue her the same way, knowing God loved her first and united our family for a very special reason.


Don’t Forget: The Saturday Soiree Blog Party is back this Saturday with inspiration and encouragement to help you coast into the weekend!  I hope to see you there!

This post was shared at Missional Women: Faith Filled Fridays,Christian Mommy Blogger., Recommendation Saturday, SITS Sharefest, Titus 2 Tuesday, She Lives Free and UNITE.


    1. Thank you, Shelley! It’s amazing how many of us are touched by Autism these days. 🙂 Blessings to you and your nephew!

  1. Sarah Ann this is beautiful. Your little joy is darling, and oh the love you are giving her. You’re absolutely right – love is often extended to the greatest degree in the most unlovely moments. Many blessings to you.

  2. Sarah Ann,
    Your girl is simply beautiful! And what a wonderful work God is doing in your life in your chosen role to be her mother. You beautifully articulated how she is a precious gift in your life. Praying for you!

    1. Thank you, Valerie! She really is a blessing and a gift from the Lord. We have our tough days, but God is my strength and I know He will get us through those rough patches. Thank you for your prayers!

  3. Your daughter is so lucky to have you, and what a beautiful little girl she is! I, too, have a daughter with autism, and although the road has been challenging at times, somehow you make it through and will be amazed at what a parent’s love and the proactive measures you take will do for your child.

    1. Yes, Autism can be a challenge but we as parents must stay strong and rest in the peace of the Lord. Best wishes to you on your journey through Autism!

  4. This is a wonderful post. It reminds me of the different ways that we love and how we incorporate it into our everyday lives. Your story about your daughter is amazing.

    1. Thanks for your support, Sophia! She is an amazing girl and I am blessed to parent her. Be sure to stop by and share your heart at the Saturday Soiree Blog Party!

  5. “Loving her means giving more of myself to another human being than I ever thought possible.”

    I’d say that’s true for parenting in general (although no doubt, you have more of a challenge than most). I’ve heard it said that “becoming a mother is choosing to wear your heart on the outside of your body.” So true.

    1. Janelle,

      You are right! It is true for parenthood in general! Great quote!

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